The merit of being authentic

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webcelebs
Jan 6 · 3 min read
Copyright: Variety, 2015

Throughout the first 2 chapters of Abidin’s book, Internet Celebrity (2018), she considers the structure of a celebrity and what qualities internet celebrities must possess to captivate an audience and a community of loyal followers. With social media on a constant escalation, it comes as no surprise that people are utilizing the extensive popularity of the space by turning their platform of internet fame into a commercialized frenzy of brands and businesses, adopting the name ‘influencers’.

Abidin (2018) states that the construction of a celebrity is due to the intentional media coverage of a person that then turns them into a commodity. This definition implies that the structure of a celebrity doesn’t depend on a specific type of person or what platform is being used but the particular process. As well as this, Abidin proposes that often internet celebrities are renowned for their exclusivity, exoticism, exceptionalism, and everydayness.

The sense of familiarity and authenticity that internet celebrities portray has an overwhelming value to their audience. According to a study commissioned by Google, 40% of millennial YouTube subscribers say that their favourite content creators understand them better than their friends and 70% of teens admit that they can relate to influencers more than traditional celebrities. This is because of a micro-celebrity’s ability to create more intimate communities where the audience feels more connected to the influencer due to the higher levels of engagement and relatability, (Nouri, 2018).

An example of this is influencers documenting areas of their daily lives that are depicted as ordinary and relatable to the conventional person. This consists of morning and night routines, shopping hauls and even documenting what they eat in a day. Overtime the genuine likeability of an influencer allows them to confidently promote products and services to their audience without compromising their integrity. Research demonstrates that women tend to follow the decisions of others whose opinions they trust or whose lifestyles they wish to imitate (Bearden et al.,1990) Wilcox Stephen, 2012).

Popular infleuncer ‘Zoella’ documenting her night routine.

‘6 in 10 YouTube users would follow advice on what to buy from their favourite content creators over a traditional celebrity.’

The Kardashian/Jenner family are often being criticised for their lack of authenticity when promoting products on their Instagram profiles. Habitually posting advertisements for weight-loss brands such as appetite suppressant lollipops and milkshakes that reduce bloating. The Kardashian sisters are not only adding to the societal pressure on young people and body image but being deceitful to their audience as they have been condemned due to having access to the world’s best personal trainers, dieticians and surgeons, therefore, posting unattainable body standards and no real desire to use the product they are promoting. The downfall of this is audiences having a negative outlook on the reality stars due to the lack of care for their audience.

Copyright: Insider, 2018

This is a key example of why brands are turning to micro-celebrities and influencers to advertise their products and services rather than the typical traditional PR assisted actors and pop stars that appear like they are only in it for the financial gain.

References:

Abidin, C. (2018). Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online. Bingley: Emerald.

Arnold,. Andrew (2017, June 20th) Why YouTube Stars Influence Millennials More Than Traditional Celebrities. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/under30network/2017/06/20/why-youtube-stars-influence-millennials-more-than-traditional-celebrities/#660ac02e48c6

Bearden, W. O., Netemeyer, R. G., & Teel, J. E. (1990). Further validation of the consumer susceptibility to interpersonal influence scale. ACR North American Advances.

Nouri, M. (2018). The Power of Influence: Traditional Celebrity vs Social Media Influencer.

Wilcox, K., & Stephen, A. T. (2012). Are close friends the enemy? Online social networks, self-esteem, and self-control. Journal of Consumer research, 40(1), 90–103.

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Hello! I’ll be exploring some key themes that Crystal Abidin discusses in her book ‘Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online’. Join the discussion!

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